As of October 1, 2014, PokerStars customers based in the United Kingdom have to move their accounts to PokerStars UK in order to comply with new regulations, namely the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act.
Part of the new law states that in order to offer services to residents of the UK, an online gaming operator – which PokerStars is – has to be fully licensed in the UK. In order to obtain such a license, operators must adhere to strict guidelines and agree to pay 15% tax on gross profits generated from the rake attributed to players from the UK.
The good news is that the migration will be straightforward and should only take a few minutes. If you try to access the PokerStars client on your PC, Mac or mobile device after 00:01 BST on October 1, you will be prompted to download new software.
All usernames, screen names, password and everything else account related remains the same. The software will almost exactly the same with the exception of the branding being PokerStars.co.uk and time zone that will probably default to GMT or BST.
After agreeing to new terms and conditions you will enjoy the same PokerStars experience as before the change, with the same selection of games and tournaments being available and the same huge player pool that you’re accustomed to.
However, there are two major differences to be aware of. The first is that auto top-up in cash games and auto rebuy in tournaments is being removed. Again, this is to comply with the new law set out by the British government.
The second negative change doesn’t come into effect until 2015 and revolves around the VIP scheme. While all VIP club rewards remain the same for UK players for the remainder of 2014, PokerStars say “rewards will be reduced slightly for 2015; more information will be available at a later date.”
This reduction of benefits is to cover the increased costs associated with allowing players from the UK to play on the site.
Once you have migrated to the new PokerStars UK software, you can enjoy £5,000 worth of freerolls as a thank you for doing so. Each night at 8:00 p.m BST from October 1-5, there is a £1,000 freeroll taking place.
PokerStars is one of the first sites to force the migration of UK players, Titan Poker now points UK players to its Titanbet Poker domain too, but some of the major players are yet to unveil their plans despite there being less than a fortnight for them to enforce the changes. Mansion have already withdrawn from the UK market and both Winamax and PokerStars.fr are set to pull out on October 1. Expect announcements from the big British firms such as partypoker, Bet365, Ladbrokes, and William Hill in the near future.